I spent most of my life intimidated by dough. I tried my first pie about six months ago and it came out perfect. Then my dough started being awful. It wouldn’t mix together to make a dough. Instead it would crumble when I tried to form it. If I added more water, it would get too sticky and it would never role out properly.
I tried every variation of temperature, changing the water, changing how cold the butter was, using recipes with different amounts of butter, etc. I finally found that the trick is to use nice butter with a Smitten Kitchen recipe modified to replace lard with butter since we’re vegetarians. KellyGold Butter from Trader Joe’s is the best. I think I’ve also finally mastered my lattice techniques.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
17 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
10 tablespoons ice water
1. Mix flour, salt and sugar with a whisk until combined. Use your hands to combine the butter until it forms little pea-sized granules.
2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. (If possible, weigh pieces. They should register 16 ounces and 14 ounces.) Flatten larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; (If for a non-lattice, double crust pie, these pieces should be even in weight and both round) wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.
Filling and Pie
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.
2. Peel apples and cut without hitting the core on four sides. Cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.
3. Set oven to 425°F. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction (diagram here). Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that). Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg white.
4. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.
5. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.